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Creek Myths and Legends

A Creek / Alibamo Legend

Bead-spitter (Konapkeso'fka) lived in a certain place. Two young women heard the name and, thinking that it must belong to some person, started out to find him. They traveled an entire day and when it was getting dark met Rabbit. "Where are you going?" he said. "We are going to Bead-spitter's." "Ku ku ku ku," he exclaimed, "you are naming somebody." "We do not know him," they replied, "but we thought there might be such a person and so we set out to find him."

"What do you want of him?" "We want some beads." "You can't go until morning," said Rabbit. "Remain here all night." They did so, and Rabbit slept with one of them. In the morning he had disappeared, but when he came back he had a mouthful of beads which he blew all about. The one he had slept with gathered them up and began stringing them, and she said to the other, "You string some of these beads also," which she began doing.

Rabbit had taken these beads from the young buzzards while their mother was away, and when she came back they told her what he had done. At that she became angry and started off to Rabbit's house. There she called out, "Pasiko'lya' (a story name of Rabbit) what have you done to my children? You have done them great injury.

When the young women heard these words they pulled off their beads, dropped them upon the ground, and started away. Late that evening they came upon Ground Squirrel (Tciloktco), and he said to them, "Where are you going?" "We are going to Turkey-killer's (Pin- li'dja's)," they answered. "It is a long distance," he replied. "You had better stay all night." They replied that they had been deceived before and hesitated to do so, but he answered that he was no "underminer," and he urged them to remain because it was late. "As you come near the dwelling of Turkey-killer, you will begin to find turkey feathers, at first only a few and as you go on more and more.

They will be deeper and deeper and when they are over your heads you will have arrived at his house." "Then, we think we will stay with you," they answered. They did so, and set out again in the morning, but found that during the night Ground Squirrel had gotten inside of the dumplings (odjo'tadja-haga) they carried and eaten them all out.

By and by they came to the feathers which lay deeper upon the ground as they proceeded, and when these were over their heads they came out into the yard of Turkey-killer's house. "Whither are-you traveling?" said Turkey-killer. "We heard that there was a bead-spitter and we wanted some beads. That is why we came." "I am the one," he answered, "but I cannot provide the beads until tomorrow morning and you must remain all night."

So the young women spent the night at that place. After daybreak the man came to them and said, "Was anything wrongful done to you while you were on the way?" The one with whom Rabbit had slept denied it. "Then everything will be all right," he said. He gave a new sofki riddle to each of them and continued, "Go to the creek and dip up water and if your story is true you can bring them back full but if it is false the water will run through." So they went down to the creek and dipped their riddles into it, but when they took them up the water ran through the riddle of the woman with whom Rabbit had slept, while that in the other remained. When she brought it to the house the man told her to sift, and as the water came through it turned into beads. Then he told both of them to string these beads, but while he kept the one who was honest as his wife, he sent the other back.

Sometime later Bead-spitter's wife was with child. Her husband was a great hunter and was off continually. One time he crossed the river in a canoe and went off hunting. When he came back, however, he found his canoe had been taken back to the side on which stood his dwelling. He shouted to his wife to come over and fetch him but she did not reply and he was obliged to swim across. In a window of his house he saw what appeared to be his wife painted and dressed in fine clothes and he said to her, "I shouted to you for a long time but it seems that you were too busily engaged in combing your hair to hear me." Then he punched at her with the butt of his gun and she fell back out of sight. He went in and then found that what he had taken for his wife was only an image of her. During his absence she had been eaten by a Kolowa ("Gorilla") who had afterwards set up the image. The Kolowa had, however, left the woman's abdomen, and on opening it the hunter found a baby inside, still alive. He saved it and took care of it, throwing the afterbirth into a thicket back of the house.

He fed his child, which was a boy, on gruel and soup. After some years had passed the child wanted a bow and arrows, and his father made some small ones for him. He was much surprised, however, when his son insisted that he make two bows with a blunt arrow and a sharp one for each. The man's suspicions were aroused at this and so, when he started out hunting one day in accordance with his custom, he stole back and watched the house. Presently he saw another boy come from the afterbirth, join his son, and play about with him. It was the first boy's twin.

Then the father crept away and began to plan how he should capture the second boy. First he thought he would turn himself into an arrow stuck in the ground at the edge of the yard and he did so, but when the wild boy came up he said, "That is your father," and he slunk away so that the man could not get him. Next the man turned himself into a ball of white grass such as is blown along the road by the wind, and the first boy said, "Let us see which can get it," but the wild boy answered, "That is your father." The third time the man assumed the form of a flying feather with the same result. But finally the man got hold of him, he became tame, and both stayed there until they were grown up.

One day the man said to his two sons, "If the canoe is on your side of the stream and someone shouts to you to ferry them across, it will not be I. Do not do it. A wicked old woman ate your mother, and that is the one who will shout. So do not go for her."

After their father had left them the old woman came down to the other bank and called to be ferried across. Then the wild boy said, "Did not father say that if someone called out we were to take the canoe over and fetch her?" But the other answered, "No, he said 'if anyone shouts do not take it over because that will be the one who devoured your mother.'" But the wild boy, whose name was Fatcasigo (Not-doing- right), insisted on going, and after they had disputed for a while he said, "If you do not agree to go I will chop you with father's ax."

The other was frightened at this and went with him. When they got to the place where the old woman was standing she said, "People always carry me on their backs and put me into the canoe," so Fatcasigo brought her down on his back. When she got into the canoe she said, "They always keep me on their backs while I am in the canoe." And when they landed on the other side she said, "They always take me out on their backs." But when Fatcasigo stood on land with her she began to shout "Kolowa', Kolowa'" and stuck fast to him. At that Fatcasigo became angry and punched her, but his fist stuck fast. He hit her with his other fist and that also stuck. He kicked her with one of his feet and that stuck. He fell down on the ground and kicked her with the other foot but that stuck. Then he butted her with his head and that stuck. His brother got sticks and beat her with them but they merely stuck to her, so that he finally became angry and struck her with his fists, whereupon he too became stuck to her like his brother.

Presently the boy's father came home and shouted from the other side of the stream to be taken across. When he found that he was unable to arouse anyone he swam over. Seeing the fix into which his two sons had gotten, he said, "Did not I tell you not to take the canoe across? Now I expect you will get some sense into your heads." He went into the house, prepared his dinner and then heated a quantity of water which he poured over the old woman. The boys were melted loose and the old woman flew away shouting "Kolowai' Kolowai'."

Before the man started out again he said to them, "You do not seem to have much sense, but I will tell you that up in that tree yonder are some eggs. Do not climb up there and play with them." After he had started off, however, Fatcasigo said, "Did not he tell us to climb up into that tree and play with the eggs?" "No," said his brother, "He told us we must not." They disputed over it for a while until finally Fatcasigo said, "If you do not agree I will chop you with father's ax." "Go ahead, then," said his brother, so they climbed up into the tree, brought down the eggs, and began playing with them. While they were doing so a storm overtook their father out in the woods, and he came back and ordered them to replace the eggs in the nest. As they were engaged in doing this the lightning struck all about and they shouted "Sindadik, sindadik," and came down.

Next time the hunter started off he said nothing to his sons and Fatcasigo said, "Father is very angry with us. Let us follow him and see what he does." Then they discovered that he had bear, deer, and all other sorts of game animals shut up in a corral, and after he left it, they went to the place, opened the gate, and let them all out. Then they came back to the house so quickly that they reached it before him.

The next time their father went to his corral he found his animals had been let out and his anger was very great. He said to his sons, when he got home, "On the other side of the stream lives a man named Long-finger-nails (Kococup-tcapko) who has some tobacco. Go to him and get me some in exchange for this lead." So they set out with the lead but on the way Fatcasigo said to his companion, "He is sending us there because he is so angry with us that he wants us to die."

After they had gone on for a while they came to a deep lake which they could not cross. An Alligator, floating close to the shore, called out, "What are you doing?" They replied, "Our father told us to go to Long-finger-nails for some tobacco and we are on the way to get it." "He sent you to something very bad," said the Alligator. "He wants him to devour you. I will put you across," he added, and he did so. Then he said to them, "Let the elder boy remain behind while the younger slips up and places lead in Long-finger-nails' basket, taking out the tobacco and saying, 'I am exchanging lead for your tobacco.' Then he must run back as fast as he can."

The boys did as they had been directed and when the younger uttered the words which had been given to him Long-finger-nails made a grab for him with one hand. But in doing so he ran his finger nails so deep into a post that it took him a long time to get them out. Meanwhile the boys got back to the Alligator, mounted on his back and were nearly across the lake before Long-finger-nails reached the opposite bank. The Alligator let them land and disappeared under the water before their pursuer caught sight of him. Then the monster said to the boys, "You had a very narrow escape. Who set you over?"

When the boys brought their tobacco in to their father, who had thought they were killed and eaten by that time, he said to them, "Well, did you make the trade?" "Yes, here is the tobacco," they said, and upon this their father got up and started off.

Then Fatcasigo said to his brother again, "Our father is very angry with us. He is going to get some one to help him kill us. We will also be prepared." So they collected quantities of bees and stinging insects of all sorts and filled the house with them. When it is time for him to come back we will set watches for him," they said, and they did so. The outermost picket was the Blue Crane (watula). The next was the Wild Goose (ahakwa). The next was the Pelican (sasa'kwa ha'gi). The last and nearest were Quails (kowaigi). The Crane was stationed farthest out because it has the loudest voice. The Wild Goose was next because it has the next loudest voice. The Pelican was next because its voice is third in strength. Quails were placed last because they make a noise with their wings when they fly up. After making these arrangements the boys lay down and listened.

By and by the boys heard the voice of the Crane and they said, "He is coming." A little later they heard the voice of the Goose, and they said, "He has gotten that far." Then the Pelican shouted and they said, "He is getting closer." And finally the Quails flew up with a whirr and they said, "He is right here; let us make ready." So they climbed up on a beam inside of the house and began throwing down bees, wasps, and other stinging things, and they kept this up until the house and yard were full of them. These settled all over their father and his warriors until they had stung them to death.

Then the boys stood up on the beam and said, "Our father must be lying somewhere about; let us go down and hunt for him." By and by they found him and said, "Our father is lying here." The boys had their bows and arrows with them, and when they found their father they took off his breech-clout and rubbed an arrow over his buttocks.

At once he flew up in the form of a crow, shouting "Ga ga ga ga."

Thus the crow was once a human being. It eats watermelons and corn and is very destructive. It is very much afraid of a bow and arrow because its buttocks were once rubbed with an arrow. For this reason people used to keep a bow and arrows about to scare it away.

After that the boys said, "We must be bad boys. We had better separate." "Do you want to go to the east or west?" said Fatcasigo to his elder brother, and the latter answered, "I will go toward the east." The younger said, "I will go to the west, and whenever you see a red cloud in the west you will know that I am there." The elder brother replied, "And whenever you see a red cloud in the east you will know that I am there." That is the end

How Rabbit fooled Alligator

A Creek Legend

Long ago, the Creek nation lived mostly in the area of Georgia and Florida. Tribal storytellers loved to relate the following legend over and over to their young people, who loved to hear it again and again.

When the animals talked with each other just like people do today, a very handsome alligator lay sunning himself luxuriously on a log in which we now call the Florida Everglades. Then along came Mr. Rabbit, who said to him, "Mr. Handsome Alligator, have you ever seen the devil?"

"No, Mr. Rabbit, but I am not afraid of the devil. Are you?" replied Mr. Alligator.

"Well now, Mr. A., I did see the devil. Do you know what he said about you?" asked Rabbit.

"Now, just what did the devil have to say about me?" Alligator replied.

"The devil said that you are afraid of him," said Rabbit. "Besides, he said you would not even look at him."

"Rubbish," said Alligator. "I know that I am not afraid of the devil and I am not afraid to look at him. Please tell him so for me the next time you see him."

"I do not think you are willing to crawl up the hill the day after tomorrow and allow me to introduce you to the devil himself," said Rabbit.

"Oh, yes, I am willing and ready to go with you," replied Alligator. "Let us go tomorrow."

"That is just fine with me," replied Rabbit. "But Mr. A., when you see some smoke rising somewhere, do not be afraid. It is a sign that the devil is moving about and will soon be on his way."

"You do not have to worry about me," said Alligator. "I told you I am not afraid of the devil."

"When you see the friendly birds flying about, and the deer running at a gallop, do not be afraid," said Rabbit.

"Don't you be concerned, because I will not be afraid," repeated Alligator.

"If you hear some fire crackling and its comes closer to you, do not be scared," said Rabbit. "If the grasses near you begin to smoke, do not be scared. The devil is only wandering about. Then is the time for you to get a good look at him when the heat is hottest."

After Rabbit's final words of wisdom, he left Alligator sunning himself.

Next day, Rabbit returned and asked Alligator to crawl up the hill, following him. Rabbit led him to the very top and directed him to lie in the tallest grass. Then Rabbit left Alligator, laughing to himself all the way down the hill, because he had led Alligator to the farthest place away from his home in the water.

On his way, Rabbit came to a smoldering stump. He picked up a piece, carrying it back to the high grass, where he made a fire so the wind blew it toward Alligator.

Soon the fire surrounded the place, burning closer and closer to Alligator. Rabbit then ran to a sandy knoll and sat down to watch the fun, chuckling over the trick he had played on Mr. Alligator.

Only a short time passed when the smoke rose in thick spirals, and the birds flew upward and away. Other animals ran for their lives across the field.

Alligator cried out, "Oh, Mr. Rabbit, where are you?"

"You just lie there quietly," replied Rabbit. "It's only the devil prowling about."

The fire began to roar and spread rapidly. "Oh, Mr. Rabbit, what is that I hear?" asked Alligator.

"That's just the devil breathing hard," replied Rabbit. "Do not be scared. You will see him soon!"

Rabbit became so amused that he rolled and rolled on the sandy knoll and kicked his heels up in the air with glee.

Soon the grass surrounding Alligator caught fire and began to burn beneath him. Alligator rolled and twisted with pain from his burns.

"Do not be afraid now, Mr. Alligator," called Rabbit. "Just be quiet for a little while longer, and the devil will be there for you to get a firsthand look at him."

Alligator could not stand any more toasting! He started to crawl as fast as he could down the hillside toward the water. He wriggled through the burning grass, snapping his jaws, rolling in pain, and choking from the smoke.

Rabbit, upon his sandy knoll, laughed and laughed, jumping up and down with delight at the trick he had played on Alligator.

"Wait a minute, Mr. A. Don't be in such a hurry. You said you were not afraid of the devil," called Rabbit.

By that time Alligator had reached his home in the water, tumbling in to stop the pain of his roasted skin.

Never again did Mr. Handsome Alligator trust that trickster, Mr. Rabbit, or any of his family, ever!

The Cussitaws come East

At a certain time the earth opened in the west, where its mouth is. The earth opened and the Cussitaws came out of its mouth, and settled nearby. But the earth became angry and ate up their children; therefore,they moved farther west.

A part of them however,turned back, and came again to the same place where they had been, and settled there. The greater number remained behind, because they thought it best to do so. Their children nevertheless, were eaten by the Earth, so that, full of satisfaction, they journeyed toward the sunrise

White Potato Clan

The question regarding the status of mixed-bloods in the Indian community keeps coming up. Both F.B.I. (Full Blood Indian) and mixed bloods ask this question, both of themselves and the community. The question is not a new one; it has been asked every since the first mixed-blood child was born. I offer no answer to the question, only a Mvskokee (Creek) story:

When the 'others' invaded the land of the People, they settled in and made homes and began to farm the land. This first wave of the invasion force gave the appearance of coming in peace, and so they were met by the People in peace.

For many years the People and the 'others' lived side by side in peace, and friendships developed, and something as old as time happened, people met and fell in love. Some of the People took 'others' for wives.

These marriages produced children, and a problem soon developed. In the Mvskokee tradition, clan is passed through the mothers' family, but since the 'others' did not belong to any Mvskokee clan the children were clanless.

This caused problems for the children and the People. It is a bad thing to be clanless. You can never marry within your own clan, so how would future marriages for the clanless children be handled? The children were well loved by their parents, but were not completely accepted into the community.

The mothers of the clanless ones were very saddened by what was happening to the children so they went to the Elders and asked for advice. The Elders told them to go out together and pray to the Creator, and if their hearts were pure the Creator would hear their prayers.

The women then departed from the village and went out to a place of prayer and offered up their supplications to the Creator. For many days they prayed and the Creator hear their prayers and saw the sincerity in their hearts.

The Creator told the women to go to the place of soft ground and black waters and to stay there and search until they found a plant that would cry out to them from under the ground.

The Creator told them that if they found this plant and did as the plant instructed them, they would not only find a clan name for their children, but they would also give the People a gift that would feed the People for ever.

The women left the place of prayer and went back to the village. They said good-bye to their husbands and children and left for the place of soft ground and black waters. The place of soft ground and black waters is a place filled with biting insects, snakes, thorns, mud, spiders, the hungry logs, and strange spirits. This was a place that would test the hearts of the women.

For many days they searched and listened for the plant that would call out to them from under the ground. Just as the women were about to give up all hope of finding the plant, they prayed again to the Creator, and then they heard the voice of the plant calling out to them.

It was difficult to find the plant because it was hidden from view, but finally they found it and dug it up. The plant told the women that even though it was from under the ground, the Creator had given it the ability to see in every direction at one time.

This is what the women were instructed to do, they were to take the plant to the village of the People, once there they were to take a knife and cut out the eyes of the plant, the eyes were to be planted on a small mound. If the women followed these instructions the plant promised to grow and it would feed the People for ever.

The women followed the instructions of the plant, and the clanless children became known as the White Potato Clan, and the plant has continued to feed the People until this very day.

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